Obama, are you trying to lose this election?


The news just keeps getting better.  I had been concerned before now with the apparent shifts to the right in Obama's campaign.  and now there's a new article out saying that Obama might want to delay undoing the tax cuts to the wealthy.  He thinks that since we're in a recession right now, it would be harmful to the economy to take more from the wealthy in taxes. 

see the article here:  news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080907/ap_on_el_pr/obama

I don't think this is such a good idea.  I don't like the drift of this.  Obama earned his initial support by looking progressive.  But as he continues to look less truly progressive, I'm questioning why I support him.   It still hasn't gotten to the point where I would support McCain.  McCain is still clearly out of the question for me, unless he starts shifting to the left in the same way Obama is shifting to the right. 

But that seems unlikely.  This election is fast turning into a farce.   Just a big joke.   I disagreed with Obama over his support of the new FISA bill, and now I disagree with him on allowing the bush tax cuts to continue.  The main people benefiting from the continuance of those tax cuts are the wealthy.  They don't need more of a cushion.  Ordinary people do.  It's the ordinary people, the mass of the working class, which holds up the economy.  Without all those workers, businesses would collapse.  Or maybe they wouldn't collapse.  They'd just move altogether to places like China and India.  And while the businesses might survive, it wouldn't be good for America. 

At the moment, I am seriously considering voting for a third party candidate.  Who cares if the party doesn't get enough votes to get elected?  I'm starting to have enough doubts about both major parties that voting for either one strikes me as going against my own principles. 

Maybe Obama will turn back to the left.  Maybe he'll go back to how he was in the primaries.  But I doubt it.  I doubt it.   I'm rather dissapointed in him at the moment.  Dissapointed in politics in general.  Perhaps this is a case where I need to start working on my own grassroots efforts.  None of the major parties reflects my politics.  So maybe I need to start building up a party that does.    That might be the best lesson for me to take from this election:  in politics, you have to do it yourself.  Don't imagine that any particular politician, especially of the big parties, is going to reflect all your values and viewpoints.  

So whatever the outcome, this election gives me much to think about between 2008 and 2012.    I just hope the country doesn't run into any more wars or other sorts of disaster before then.  We, the American people, do not strike me as all that bright when acting collectively.   

What now?



Politics fascinates me in a disturbing sort of way.  

There are a number of narratives starting to form around the various candidates.   I had heard in the past criticisms concerning Obama that black voters didn't consider him black enough, or that average Americans considered him an outsider. 

Now, with Palin chosen as the Republican VP, there is a new narrative forming, a new question being asked:  Which candidate is the most American? 

Palin is held up as a sort of ultra-American, due to her boundless support for guns, babies, and all the other evangelical, 'Christian' virtues.  
Mark Shea, on his blog Catholic and Enjoying It, quotes a commentor thus:

"I haven't read all the comments, but it isn't surprising that MM doesn't like Sarah Palin, for the same reason that a lot of ordinary Americans like her. I think the reason many people have responded positively to her is that unlike any of the other three people in the race, she seems uniquely American - not Americanist, but American. Motorcycles, hunting, outdoors, apple pie, cookouts, motherhood, self-reliance, hard work, ambition -- all wonderful aspects of what uniquely makes up American culture. Obama could have come out of the burbs of Paris; Palin couldn't have come from anywhere but America."

I find this sentiment somewhat disturbing.  America is supposed to be a melting pot, isn't it?  I didn't realize there was anything that qualified you as being an American except agreeing with the ideas of liberty, justice, and the pursuit of happiness, as well as many other things covered by our country's founding fathers.   

American culture has never been homogenous.  We are a land of immigrants and of disparate temperaments and beliefs.  To expect some sort of unique 'American' culture, which you can use to identify all the 'genuine' Americans, seems kind of shallow. 

Americans are not identical clones of each other, nor is American culture homogenous.  It is diverse.  It has always been diverse.   To single out one part of that diversity as being the defining set of 'American' traits is doing an injustice to our country's history and its greatness.  

This seems to have more to do with political maneuvering than with truth or fairness.  Conservatives and Republicans are trying to cast Obama as an outsider, someone who isn't truly American.  They want people to start identifying him as the Other, something unknown and dangerous.  They want him to seem like he came from "the burbs of Paris," as in the quote above.  

So what if Obama is black?  So what if he's got a funny name?  We all have funny names.  It just depends on who you ask.   America has always been a country of immigrants, a country of outcasts and misfits with funny names and quite often conflicting cultures.  The uniquely American aspect of our country has been our attempt to put all such differences aside in pursuit of a common dream of liberty, happiness, and justice.  We have not always been successful.  Or even mostly successful.  But where we have been successful, it has been a real achievement. 
 

Further thoughts on Sarah Palin and others

I came across an article on Sarah Palin just now by conservative journalist Mark Steyn.  Steyn has a razor wit which he isn't afraid of using on those he disagrees with.  

To see for yourself, go here:

http://corner.nationalreview.com/post/?q=ODNhOTk2YTU0NWY4ZjY5ODNhZTgyOWZkNjY5YjFlMmY=

Steyn does make some good points, if I assume that everything he says is true.  He suggests that working as the governor of Alaska while having five kids is probably better experience for Palin than community organizing was for Obama.  

As Steyn puts it in the article, "Next to her resume, a guy who's done nothing but serve in the phony-baloney job of "community organizer" and write multiple autobiographies looks like just another creepily self-absorbed lifelong member of the full-time political class that infests every advanced democracy."

Then again, Palin is, arguably, just as much a member of that full-time political class as any politician.  I have met a number of the overachievers like Palin, the beauty queens and valedictorians.  These kinds of people seem to carry a political mindset even if they never enter politics.  They weigh the long-term costs and benefits of being members of sports teams, and clubs, and the student government.  They think of it in terms of how it will look on their resumes when applying to college and beyond.  Palin strikes me as having a bit of this quality.  She likes being in the spotlight.  She's got a certain charm.  Steyn calls it the "naughty librarian vibe".   She was most likely chosen precisely because she is a conservative version of Obama--young, charismatic,  and pretty much unknown till now. 

Even more revealing was how her speech just after being nominated parroted much of the tone from Obama's past speeches.  McCain has been doing this too, trying to adopt Obama's tone while holding the opposite positions. 

"I found someone with an outstanding reputation for standing up to special interests and entrenched bureaucracies; someone who has fought against corruption and the failed policies of the past," McCain said before introducing Palin.  McCain said a lot of other things reminiscent of Obama's past speeches.  

The Republicans are apparently pretending to be Democrats, at least in tone.  Of course, all that falls away once they get in to office.  It's like an old coat they wear every time an election comes around, and then hang up once the white house is secure. 

Quoth Palin: "If you want change in Washington, if you hope for a better America, then we're asking for your vote on the 4th of November."

But that's what Obama was saying first!  If I didn't know any better, I'd think the Republicans are trying to steal Obama's thunder.   They're a gang of copycats. 

And it's working on some people.  Some of my family for instance.   The Republicans have perfected the art of smearing all their opponents all the while stealing the convenient ideas of other parties when it suits them. 

If Republicans win this election, I am going to seriously consider emigrating to another country.   I don't know if I want to continue living in a nation of suckers that would elect Republicans AGAIN after the administration of George W. Bush.    This country seems to like celebrating ignorance and considers it a crime to sound too educated and smart.   Like that is a BAD thing for the president of our country.  I don't get it.  I really don't.  

I'm hoping that the USA isn't as big a nation of suckers as I suspect.  Prove me wrong, people.   Don't be fooled again by the Republicans.  Don't listen to their fearmongering.   

Sarah Palin: The Next President?

It seems very possible to me that Sarah Palin, if she and McCain win the election, will become the president.  Why?  Because McCain strikes me as fragile.  He just looks so OLD.  He was a POW, and suffered injuries from that.  He's on various medications.  He gets disability pay from the government.  McCain just doesn't strike me as someone who has a lot of years left in him.  Hell, he could go at any time. 

And if McCain/Palin win the election, and then McCain croaks, we end up with Palin as our president.  Energetic, youthful, but inexperienced Sarah Palin.  She likes eating moose, is a member of the NRA, and could be a closet creationist as well as an obvious and outspoken pro-lifer. 

She's a pretty face to look at, at least, but how good would she be at running our country really?  She has little experience, and experience has been one of the main arguments McCain brings against Obama.  So what is McCain thinking by picking one of the most inexperienced people ever as his VP, especially considering his age?  If people think about it even a little, they realize that Palin stands a good chance of becoming our president if McCain gets into office. 

Another thing that bothers me about Palin are her probable ties to big oil companies.  She's the governer of Alaska, for instance.  Alaska has so much revenue from oil sales that Alaskans pay no state taxes, but rather get a state credit in their favor.  Palin is an advocate for increasing all sorts of oil drilling.   Coincidence?  I think not.  I think she is in the pocket of the big oil magnates.  If Palin becomes president due to McCain giving up the ghost, then we really will see a third term of Bush. 

Either way, this election is starting to have me shaking my head.  If the Republicans steal yet another election, I'm probably going to lose my mind.  And I imagine that other people will be angry about it too.  If this apparent election-stealing keeps up, we're going to have a civil war.  Mark my words.   The divisions in our country are great, and having what looks like another rigged election will only make it worse.   Republicans already have a reputation for stealing the presidency in 2000 and 2004.  If they get it again now, in 2008, I think we'll be heading towards some sort of major break in the country, a civil war perhaps.  But maybe things won't get that bad.  We'll see. 

The Opening of the 2008 Beijing Olympics

After watching the opening ceremonies put on by China for the olympics, I feel impressed.  They put on a huge, lavish display that was awe-inspiring and even a bit frightful.  It was pretty obvious to me that China is trying to send a message.  The message I got was basically:

"We are China.  We are big.  We are getting bigger.  We are also bold and getting bolder.  Look at what we have accomplished.  Imagine what we can accomplish in the future. "  

Despite the claims of "One world, one dream", I took it as a cautionary tale.  Tread softly, and all that.  The slogan "One world, one dream", doesn't specify what the dream is exactly, after all.  If it is a single dream and a single world as according to China, it might differ from what we would wish considerably.  And with China increasingly capturing markets these days, it looks as though its growth into a superpower is undeniable.  The question is what will happen in the wake of China's efforts.  What sort of dreams does China have for this "one world"?  Does it involve conquest of a military, cultural, or economic variety?  They certainly have the people for a possible military conquest.   1.3 billion, the largest chunk of population in the world, with India coming in second.  This is even more worrisome since China still has in place a totalitarian government, one of the last of its kind.  Where Russia fell, China has tried hard to learn from past mistakes, and has thus far succeeded in holding on to vast power.  This should make us wary in the future.  China is becoming a powerful force, and based on numbers alone has the advantage.  Other countries lead China in technology and other areas of knowledge, but China is closing that gap a bit more every day.  If China becomes technologically equal with the West, or even better, then I predict the gig is up.   Instead of U.S. imperialism we will see Chinese imperialism.   And what that will mean is not something I want to think a lot about.  Still, I'm keeping my eye on China from now on.  Intriguing things are afoot. 

No One Sees God

 Found another Catholic article, by Michael Novak, which more or less confirms my suspicions that believers know there is something odd about their faith.  When they realize that, however, they have to keep on believing it no matter what, and come up with increasingly odd explanations so that every wayward fact can be accounted for by their fantasy.

Check out the article here:  http://catholiceducation.org/articles/apologetics/ap0260.htm


Some highlights I find telling: "No one can see God, even if they try."  , "Do not ask to see Jesus, or to feel Him. That is for children. Love him in the dark. Love for the invisible divine, not for the warm and comforting human consolation.  Love for the sake of love, not in order to feel loved in return."

They admit they cannot see or feel their god.  They admit that they worship something invisible which doesn't respond to them.  And yet they persist.  They make one fatal admittance after another:

"For those who love God, that way is excruciating. They would like to feel close to God, but they find -- nothing!",  "One must follow Him without any human prop whatever, even warm and comfortable inner feelings."

They know they have no proof, no evidence whatsoever for their god.  But they continue to believe.  It baffles me, in a way.  This author claims you should follow his god without any human props, not even inner feelings.  But he must be getting something.  Even if the actual hunt for God doesn't give him good feelings, perhaps the thought that he is virtuous by searching so hard does give him good feelings.  He might feel that he is keeping faithful to God, and this might give him warm inner feelings, a sense of accomplishment.  

The article continues:  "That is to say, our senses cannot touch God. Neither sight nor sound, scent nor taste, nor touch, either. Our imagination cannot encompass Him, nor even bring Him into focus. How can we count on our memory? Our minds can form no adequate conception of Him; anything the mind imagines is easily ridiculed. The God who made us and out of His infinite love redeemed us and called us to His bosom is divine, not human. As such, He cannot be found using human perceptual equipment."

This brings up a number of questions.  If human perceptual equipment is unable to detect God, how can we know anything about him?  the human is all we have.  And if we can form no adequate conception of God, then all our talk, through all ages, has been our own invention.  

The article has more, though.  It goes on to a discussion of the famed St. John of The Cross, author of the book The Dark Night of The Soul, which deals with the issues of God's lack of response and whatnot.   We come to this passage:

"Beginners who are prone to "spiritual gluttony" are, in fact, like children, who are not influenced by reason, and who act, not from rational motives, but from inclination. Such persons expend all their effort in seeking spiritual pleasure and consolation; they never tire therefore, of reading books; and they begin, now one meditation, now an other, in their pursuit of this pleasure which they desire to experience in the things of God. But God, very justly, wisely, and lovingly, denies it to them, for otherwise this spiritual gluttony and inordinate appetite would breed innumerable evils. It is, therefore, very fitting that they should enter into the dark night, whereof we shall speak, that they may be purged from this childishness. "

Notice how this conflicts sharply with Jesus' claim that unless his disciples became like little children, they wouldn't get to heaven.  (matthew 18:3)  Though  the letters of St. Paul conflict with the gospels, such as one instance where St. Paul speaks of putting away childish things (1 Corinthians 13:11).   

So which is it, really?  Is Jesus right, and we need to be like children, or are St. Paul and John of The Cross right, in that we need to put away childish things?  You'd think Jesus would get primacy, but in this case scripture battles scripture without any consideration of whose advice is more legitimate.  

One more quote that I find revealing:
"Darkness is not a sign of unbelief, or even of doubt, but a sign of the true relation between the Creator and the creature. God is not on our frequency, and when we get beyond our usual range, which in prayer we must, we reach only darkness."

The number of admissions in this article is staggering.  But the truly audacious thing is that Novak tries to turn this darkness on it's head, and make it something good, virtuous, and make it seem like further confirmation of God.  This is why believers are pretty much insane.  They realize there is no evidence for their faith, none at all, and they keep making excuses to believe.  

One last quote:

"I hypothesize that unbelievers, especially those who have never known religion in their personal lives, or who have had bad experiences with it, experience a revulsion against reasoned knowledge of God, and even more so against a Jewish and/or Christian faith. Indeed, they find it harder to imagine themselves as believers than believers to imagine themselves as unbelievers. Am I wrong? "

I don't experience revulsion against "reasoned knowledge of God" because such knowledge doesn't exist.   I have searched for it for a while now, and I have yet to find a reasonable excuse for God or any of the other gods.  That said, it is easy to imagine myself as a believer.  I have been a believer, fervently so, a number of times in my life.   I know the feeling, we'll say.  I've been on both sides, and I much prefer secular humanism to any of the current religions.  As for God, if (S)He/ It  exists, and he cares enough about me to want to decide the fate of my soul, He should be able to speak to me directly.  I find every human discussion on His attributes more inventive than true.  All religion, I think, is human invention.  We make our gods, when we make them, in our own image.  If there is a "True God" I'm going to wait until said True God stands up and announces its existence and wishes.  Until then...  

If you want to read more of the article, go see for yourself. 

Shadows of The Mind

I just read another fascinating article by St. Mark Shea.  It's fascinating because of the insights it gives me concerning the Catholic mentality.  Anyone who considers themselves on the side of freedom from religion shouldn't kid themselves.  Catholicism has done much harm, and is still and will continue doing so in the future if left to it's own devices.  

If you doubt this, look a little bit into  "Wafergate", and how biologist P.Z. Myers obtained a Catholic communion wafer and stuck it with a nail before tossing it in the trash.  The response from Catholics has been telling.  Some want Myers to lose his job.  A few would even like him to lose his life.  St. Mark Shea has called Myers "a sick puppy", as well as "evil".   Why is it evil for Myers to tamper with a wafer?

Because Catholics--some, anyway--believe that their wafer, after being consecrated, becomes Jesus Christ.  Not in a metaphorical sense, but a literal one.  They think the wafer becomes Jesus' body and blood.  After Jesus becomes present, they eat the wafer.  They think they eat Jesus.  Despite the fact that the wafer retains all the properties of bread.  They have all sorts of complicated explanations for why the wafer becomes Jesus without showing any physical changes.  They also have complicated explanations for why what they are doing can't be considered cannibalism, if the wafer really does turn into Jesus.   

I'll be frank.  I find all of this to be fundamentally insane.   Catholics have a wafer.  It remains a wafer in all physical aspects during it's existence.  And yet Catholics offer endless explanations of why the wafer really *is* Jesus' flesh and blood without physically becoming flesh or blood.  They have no proof, and so they make increasingly convoluted explanations for why there is no proof that their wafer becomes Jesus.  They offer similar explanations for every other part of their doctrine which cannot be proved.  Things like prayer, and the existence of angels and demons, and an afterlife, and the existence of God.  

They try to make their lack of proof seem virtuous by saying that it is narrow-minded to expect proof.  That there are realities far above our ability to sense.   They make analogies by asking how a normal person would explain color to a crowd of blind people.   No doubt, they say, the blind people would think that the normal person was crazy.  But there are ways that sight could be proven by inference.  the normal person could use his sight to reveal information that the blind people would think he couldn't possibly know.  For instance, being blind would mean that touch or smell or taste or hearing would have to be the primary way of finding things.  Touch would probably be one of the more widely used senses.  The normal person could, without coming over and touching any of the blind people, count their numbers, or count the number of objects they held or wore.  He could count the number of bumps on a person's arm, or face.  He could do any number of things to show that he could 'see' things.   The normal person has ways to confirm indirectly the existence of his sight to a crowd of blind people.  

So it seems kind of weak in my opinion to use such anologies as an explanation for how weird Christian doctrines seem.  They make up story after story concerning the composition and contents of Heaven and Hell, and the spiritual realm at large, and yet all of these things remain invisible to the normal senses.  At best these invisible things are 'felt'.  And that in itself is suspicious.  

I think it's far more likely that Heaven and Hell and all the rest exist only in the human mind, sustained by our imagination.   The mind is extremely powerful.  It's certainly not beyond it's ability to fabricate an invisible heaven and hell and populate them with gods, angels, and demons.   Christians talk of this invisible realm as the home of the "powers and principalities" which vie, invisibly, for our invisible souls.  

Can you say Imagination, anyone?  These are ideas, pure and simple.  They live in the mind, and they die with the mind.   They are like viruses, hijacking minds for their own purposes.  They get a foothold by appealing to emotion and to the human need for security and order.  When faced with a hostile, inhuman cosmos that exists independent of our wills or wishes, we humans can get frightened.  For many minds, it is better to accept an understandable, ordered fantasy than to live with uncertainty or something certain which clashes with our wishes.   The human mind craves purpose and meaning.  When it cannot find it in the objective world, it creates it's own purpose and meaning.  In the case of religion, it projects that meaning and purpose on to everything else.  Every aspect of the universe must then fit into the fantasy scheme.  Thus, atheists do not disagree about the existence of God because they have legitimate reasons to do so.  They disagree because they are too prideful, too willing to put their own wishes before God's; or they are too mired in sin and made blidn by their own faults; or they are subtly influenced by the invisible "powers and principalities".   Of course all the angels and demons are invisible, Christians say.  That's part of their plan, to fool us.  

I could understand why the demons would try to be invisible, if they mean to be subversive and undermine God's regime.  But why is God himself so often invisible as well?  Why isn't God proclaiming his laws directly, fighting evil, and upholding justice and goodness?   

Christians suppose that God wants all of his creations to be in a struggle, fighting for dominance.  the "powers and principalities" of this world are fighting for human souls, and God stands by.   Why can't we see these powers and principalities?  because they make themselves invisible, the better to secretly influence us.  Why does God allow it and Himself remain invisible?  Because he values our free will so much that he refuses to sully us with his divine presence.  

The story just keeps getting more convoluted, and there has never been offered a bit of concrete proof for any of these claims.  Not for God, not for angels or demons, not for the soul or the afterlife.  It's all invisible to us.  We're supposed to have faith.  

But anyway.  Back to my main contention for this post: namely, that Christianity is a mental virus.  Why do I say this?  Because every Christian worries about the next life, an eternity of either Heaven or Hell, depends upon certain choices in this life.  It doesn't occur to many of them that 100 years is petty compared to eternity.  Why is it just to have our fates decided for eternity on the basis of only 100 years?  And what evidence is there that humans have a 'soul' which exists for eternity anyway?  Christian talk of the eternal and of their invisible god influences their lives here and now powerfully.  Catholics oppose abortion and euthenasia and contraception and divorce, because they think these offend their god.  The virus has taken them over completely, and convinced them that their disease is a wonderful experience.  

The early biblical authors recognised that what they were doing was centered in the mind and remained in the mind, thus making it largely invisible.  St. Mark Shea quotes 2 Corinthians 10:4-5: "The weapons of our battle are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses. We destroy arguments and every pretension raising itself against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive in obedience to Christ".  

Notice the wording.  Christians' weapons "are not of flesh but are enormously powerful, capable of destroying fortresses."  They talk of "taking every thought captive".   They are talking about intellectual warfare, and of spreading memes--mental genes.   The Christian meme spreads by addressing human emotions and setting them all in place in a fantasy scheme.  The human mind wants order so Christianity gives it order and meaning, though at the expense of truth.  

If you want to read St. Mark Shea's post concerning Wafergate and how Christians are supposed to respond to it, go here:

http://ncregister.com/site/article/15581/

Listening to God listen

I just came across a strange piece of Catholic writing.  It talks about Eucharistic adoration.  In other words, it talks about worshipping pieces of bread.  Catholics believe that a consecrated host--a blessed piece of bread-- becomes, in some mysterious way, Jesus Christ.  He is present, they say, in the bread.  Presumably when you eat the bread his holy ghost inhabits you.  Once his invisible ghost has been absorbed into your invisible spirit, the visible bread becomes simply bread again so Jesus doesn't have to experience being digested and later excreted.  

The trouble I've always had with this is the invisible part.  If it's invisible, how can you tell it's really there?  If you have no sensors to confirm it, no way to test the effects of the invisible on the visible, how do you know anything is really there?  And with bread this is a real problem.  The bread is said to be changed into Christ.  And yet there is no visible change.  So far as I know, there is no way to confirm the presence of Jesus in the bread.  It's something you're supposed to take on faith.  

If that's not enough, I now read in this article that it's a good idea to spend time adoring glorified pieces of this bread.  They stick it in a fancy holder that looks an awful lot like an idol.  It's in chapels and churches usually.  People come and kneel before it, and pray, and talk to it.  They think they are talking to Jesus, worshipping and praying to him.  To me it just looks like a piece of bread in a fancy holder.  

The article brings up the issue of why, when people pray, God doesn't answer.  St. Theresa's answer to the question is offered:

"

"What do you say to God when you pray," he inquired.

"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "I just listen."

"What does God say to you?" he responded, rather derisively.

"Nothing," replied Mother Theresa. "He just listens." 


So what it comes down to is that there is a lot of silence.  God, who is invisible, speaks to us silently.  Got that?   I don't.  To quote the Bard, "This is the silliest stuff that ever I heard."  (Midsummer Night's Dream, Act 5, scene 1)

and further:  "The best in this kind are but shadows; and the worst are no worse, if imagination amend them."    

Vegetarianism

I've been thinking a lot on vegetarianism lately.  

A lot's been said about how healthy it is to be vegetarian.  It lowers your cholesterol, makes your heart healthier, helps you lose weight, and reduces the risk of certain cancers.  So the story goes.  Though of course for every person who endorses vegetarianism there's another that thinks it's foolish.  

Look at our teeth and digestive system, critics say.  We have sharp teeth, like carnivores, and our digestive tracts aren't as long as those of herbivores, so we must really be evolved to eat and digest meat.  

Others point out that we are a cross between carnivores and herbivores, which is why we can eat and digest both meats and vegetables.  The question is not so much whether or not we can eat certain foods or not.  It's whether we should.  What's the best choice, from a health perspective?  Is there some nutrient in meat which we need?  Or can we get enough protein from vegetable sources, along with the other nutrients we get from meat?  

The thing is, no matter what the health benefits of vegetarianism are, I've usually been wary of vegetables.  Salads I thought as dangerous as swordsmen.  You had to bribe me to eat brocholli, and I wouldn't eat brussels sprouts for any sum.  But slowly that's changed.  Vegetables have grown less menacing of late. 

Anyway, after thinking about this today I decided I'd try a veggie burrito for lunch at a mexican restaurant.  The burrito was made of a flour tortilla and filled with rice, beans, tomatoes, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions, along with a mild sauce.  I enjoyed it.  I wonered if maybe I'd miss the taste of meat.  But I found that the combination of vegetables had a dinstinctive and likeable flavor of their own.  They didn't need meat.   

I also realized that most of our seasonings-- salt, pepper, cinnamon, sugar, etc-- are plant-based.   Oranges, Apples,  Pears, Apricots, Peaches, Lemons, Limes, Grapes...  the available flavors and textures among vegetables and other edible plants are vast.    So there wouldn't necessarily be a lack of good tasting food in a vegetarian diet.  That was something I had thought previously to count against vegetarianism: vegetables were too bland.  Now I realize you just need the right combination of vegetables and plant-based foods and seasonings.  Then blandness won't be a problem.  

That covers some of the health and culinary aspects of vegetarianism.  But that's not all there is to it.  Some have also thought vegetarianism was a moral issue as well.  For instance, Leo Tolstoy, author of War and Peace, wrote:

"Vegetarianism is the taproot of humanitarianism."   Tolstoy was not the only one to have this sentiment.  A number of famous persons, including the playwright George Bernard Shaw and the scientist Albert Einstein, have advocated vegetarianism.  

Their argument is that humans cannot foster a humane outlook if they dine on corpses, and raise vast populations of animals which show some level of feeling and awareness for the sole purpose of being our dinners.   At first glance this seems fairly obvious.  Of course people will be less humane if they eat corpses for dinner.  But, for one thing, most Americans do not think of the meat they eat as a corpse, and hardly ever see it in that form.  They just see the processed result.  Most are divorced from the process.  Eating a hamburger is much different from hunting and killing a deer and then tearing raw chunks of meat off the corpse and eating them.  

Another issue comes in the form of that world-renowned villain, Adolf Hitler.  Hitler was a vegetarian.  Critics point out that being vegetarian didn't really make him much of a better or more humane person.   So perhaps vegetarianism is not really a cause of humanitarianism.  Rather, vegetarianism can sometimes be the result of humanitarian impulses.   

Still, vegetarianism needs to be considered in terms of health and economics.  It very well can be argued for on those grounds, I think.  It's a topic that could use more research. 

As for me, I'm going to continue dabbling in it and seeing what comes of it.  Though i'm not as rigorous or exact in experimenting as someone in a laboratory setting would be, I think my  efforts can still hold weight in my own life.  At least until some more definitive study comes along.